This "timeline" has been compiled by UK Gay News,
with invaluable assistance from readers in Australia, Canada and Austria, from many websites.
It reflects all known legislation worldwide, whether "strong" or "weak" that
impacts on same-sex couples in a long-term relationship from 1979 to the
present time. It should be noted that there are varying degrees of
there are any omissions, inaccuracies or new legislation, please let us know
(editorial at ukgaynews.org.uk
- remove the spaces and "at" etc).
Please note that this listing
is NOT copyright and can be freely used - credit of source is appreciated.
1979. The Netherlands
introduced the "Unregistered Cohabitation" law which was the framework for the
introduction over several years of limited legal rights for same-sex couples
in areas such as income tax, social security, rent law, immigration rules
and state pensions
becomes the first country in the world to legally recognise gay
relationships with its
Registreret Partnerskab, with most (but not all) rights enjoyed by married couples.
But church ceremonies are not permitted neither is adoption.
Norway introduces Registrert Partnerskap which is similar
- based on the Danish "model".
1996. Greenland, a
self-governing part of Denmark, introduces
becomes the first country in the former Eastern European Bloc to introduce
benefits for same-sex couples. The Unregistered Cohabitation Amendment to
Civil Code gave all unmarried "common law" couples, including same-sex
couples, limited rights and benefits which have to be applied for to the
local government. Partnership legislation currently being discussed
(registered partnerships) for both heterosexuals and homosexuals,
giving couples the same rights and responsibilities as for married couples.
introduces a Pacte Civil de Solidarité or PaCS (civil contract)
that gives some rights to cohabitating couples of
all sexualities. Taxation, inheritance and adoption are not included in
becomes the first state in the
to introduce legislation recognising same-sex couples. Vermont Civil Unions
give same-sex couples the same life insurance, health care and child
custody benefits as married couples.
(Legal Cohabitation) for same sex couples giving them the
same rights and responsibilities as for married couples.
January in Canada, what is thought to be the world's first 'gay
marriage' in a church took place in Toronto (the MCC church in the
city on January 14, Douglas in Toronto kindly tells us). The ceremony
was subsequently ruled "legal" by three Ontario Court of Appeal judges
(2003). Other Canadian provinces introduced same sex marriage until
earlier this year when the Parliament brought-in same-sex marriage
nationally, confirming judicial rulings in some, but not all, provinces.
A footnote to the Ontario Court of Appeal ... Canada's leading national
newspaper, the Globe and Mail, named the three jurists as "Nationbuilders
of the Year" for their decision.
becomes the first country in the world to introduce full civil marriage for
same sex couples.
União de Facto / Economia Comum
(Union of Fact/Common Economy) which extends to same-sex couples the
same rights as heterosexual couples living in a de facto union for more than
two years. Very limited rights.
(Registered Life Partnerships) for same-sex couples. This includes the same
inheritance and tenant rights as enjoyed by married couples.
which is similar to Denmark to almost complete the Nordic countries
recognition of same-sex couples in a partnership - the exception being the
Faroe Islands (self-governing part of Denmark).
introduces full same-sex marriage.
Canada, an Ontario court rules that same-sex marriages are legal (the
2001 wedding at the Toronto MCC church was now legal). British
Columbia and Québec embrace same-sex marriage.
a law comes into force for same-sex civil unions whereby partners who have
been together for at least three years can enjoy the same benefits as
unmarried cohabiting opposite sex couples which are limited.
2003. In Buenos Aires,
Argentina same sex partnerships were introduced. While the 350
or so same-sex couple in the capital city have taken advantage and enjoy
most of the rights enjoyed by married couples (it does not include the right
to adopt or inheritance rights, as these are federal matters), the remainder
of the country is without any recognition. However, the Argentine
Congress is currently going through the legislative process of implementing
a new form of marriage aimed at same-sex partners, but will also be
available to heterosexual couples. When passed, it will apply to the
2003. On the orders of the European Court
of Human Rights, Austria gives cohabiting same-sex partners all the
rights of unmarried cohabiting heterosexual partners (Karner
2003. The Supreme Court of the
Massachusetts in the
ordered state authorities to issue marriage licences for same-sex couples –
and in 2004 this became effective. However, while same-sex marriages are
legal, there are moves to ban them.
2004. The city of
in Oregon (USA) began issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples.
But an amendment to the state constitution was passed by the electorate in a
referendum. The same happened in San Francisco, but this was
short-lived following a court case.
Loi Relative aux Effets Légaux de Certains Partenariats
(Law Relating to
the Legal Effects of Certain Partnerships) which is based on the French
Brazil/Rio Grande do Sul - Civil
union (see below)
2004. Tasmania in Australia
introduces registered relationship or civil unions for all, regardless of
sexuality, but with strict residency conditions.
Tasmania's Relationships Act gives same-sex
relationships equal status to heterosexual marriages under nearly all state
laws, and covers areas such as property transfers and superannuation.
Enregistré/Unione Domestica Registrata
which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples in terms
of pension, insurance and taxation.
Adoption by same-sex couples is specifically
Parliament passes legislation for “Civil Partnerships” which closely mirrors
the Civil Marriage Act, but does not allow religion to form part of any ceremony.
Civil Partnerships are virtually same-sex marriage in all but name and the
legislative process was perhaps one of the least provocative anywhere,
probably because the word "marriage" was not used. Under a different
law, adoption by same-sex couples is permitted (adoption by gay men or women
as individuals has always been permitted, but law was amended so that both
people in a civil partnership can jointly adopt).
2004. New Zealand Parliament
passes an act that permits Civil Unions between same-sex couples.
Unió Estable de Parella
union of [a] couple). This is open to both same-sex and opposite-sex
couples. Proof of a stable relationship is required to register with the
'Registry of Stable Unions'. Registered couples have most - but not
all - of the rights enjoyed by married couples.
civil union law comes into force.
becomes the second state in the
to permit same-sex civil unions, despite the state constitution specifically
defining “marriage” as being between a man and a woman.
passes legislation permitting same-sex marriage, with couples able to adopt.
The legislation was enacted within weeks.
Registraciji Istospolne Partnerske Skupnosti or ZRIPS (Law on the
registration of same-sex unions/partnerships) for "Registered Same-Sex Partnerships". Very limited
rights around property, the obligation to support the weaker partner and
partial inheritance rights. Not included are next-of-kin or social security
introduces legislation that includes same-sex couples in marriage (and it
applies throughout the country) following a bitter
debate in Parliament which came close to bringing down the government.
provinces had already introduced same-sex marriage, with the United Church
of Canada, the MCC and Unitarian churches offering ceremonies. Adoption by
same-sex couples is permitted. Where Canada arguably has the best
legislation in the world is in the fact that anyone can get married in
Canada, regardless of nationality or country of residence. However, there is
no right of a Canadian citizen to bring a spouse into the country if he or
she married outside of Canada. See also
2001 for Canada's (and probably the world's) first same-sex marriage in a
church) and 2003 for first "legal" recognition..
2005 (November). Australian Capitol
Territory (Canberra) in Australia approves civil unions for
same-sex couples. But unlike the legislation in Tasmania, there is no
residency requirement. The Federal Government blocked the Civil
Unions Act six months later
on the grounds it contravened
the Commonwealth Marriage Act.
2005 (December). The Australian
Defence Force (military) introduced for same-sex couples
the same benefits as
heterosexual partners in areas like housing and education assistance, and
relocation. The areas of inequality that remain unaddressed are
superannuation and Veterans Affairs (compensation upon death or injury)
introduces legislation that allows same-sex couple to adopt children.
2005 (December). High Court in
rules that preventing same-sex couples from getting married was
unconstitutional – and gives the government 12 months to bring into effect the
necessary legislation. National Assembly passed the Civil Union Bill
on November 14, 2006.
Civil Partnership Act 2004 becomes law. Same sex couples are permitted
to give “notice of intention” of registering civil partnerships from December
5. First civil partnership registrations/ceremonies in the UK are on
December 19 in Northern Ireland, with Scotland following the next day, and
England and Wales on December 21. However, in the Western Isles region
of Scotland, registrars are refusing to perform civil partnership
registrations on moral grounds - and the council is backing the registrars
Latvia becomes the first country in Europe and the European Union to
define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Constitutional
Amendment passed its Parliamentary process on December 15 and now goes to
the President for final approval.
2005 (December). Czech Republic
Partnership Bill passed by Chamber of Deputies on
December 16. The Bill now has to go before the Senate by mid-January
2006. If it fails at the Senate, it returns to the Deputies and then,
after further approval, it can go directly to the President for signing.
2006 (January). Czech
Republic Partnership Bill passed by the Senate (January 26) with a 45-14
majority (six Senators abstained). BUT ...
President Vaclav Klaus
has indicated (January 29, 2006) he will not sign the Bill into law.
2006 (February). Czech
Republic Partnership Bill vetoed by
President Vaclav Klaus
2006 (March). Czech
Republic Partnership Bill saved by the Chamber of Deputies in Parliament
when President's veto was set aside, with 101 of the 171 deputies present
voting in favour (March 15). To overturn a presidential decision, the
Chamber of Deputies has to record an absolute majority of its 200 elected
members - so the reversal was 'won' by one vote - the absolute minimum.
Registraciji Istospolne Partnerske Skupnosti or ZRIPS (Law on the
registration of same-sex unions/partnerships) came into effect. Severe
restrictions include no one, including family, can attend the registration.
Very limited rights around property, the obligation to support the weaker
partner and partial inheritance rights. Not included are next-of-kin
or social security rights.
2006 (October). In the
United States, the
New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that "the
State must provide to committed same-sex couples, on equal terms, the full
rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples". The
court ordered politicians to either amend the existing marriage laws to
include same-sex couples or to introduce same-sex "civil unions" within 180
2006 (November). In
South Africa, the National Assembly passed the Civil Unions Bill by a
more than convincing 230-41 margin on November 14. The Bill now has to
be approved by the National Council of Provinces
before it can
be signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki. The deadline set by the
Constitutional Court for introduction is Thursday November 30, 2006.
2006 (November). In
Mexico City, a local law was passed recognising same-sex civil unions.
The legislation was published in the 'Official Gazette' on November 16 after
being signed by the Mayor of Mexico City three days previously. The
law comes into effect in February 2007 - and does not apply throughout
2006 (November). In
South Africa, the Civil Unions Bill passed National Council of Provinces
on November 28 to complete its legislative process. The voting margin
was 34-11 (with one abstention). The Bill was signed into law by
Acting President Phumzile Mlamblo-Ngcuka and is now an Act
- and has immediate effect.
Territory (Canberra) in Australia tables a revised bill
to legally recognise same-sex relationships (see
November 2005 above).
2006 (December). The
New Jersey Assembly on December 14 voted 56-19 to introduce Civil
Unions, which would give same-sex couple all the rights of a married couple.
Later in the day, the State Senate approved 23-12. Gov. Jon Corzine
signed the legislation on December 21 and Civil Unions for same-sex couples
becomes law on February 19, 2007. It will give all the rights and
responsibilites of marriage, but not the title.
2007 (January). In
Switzerland, the federal Partnership Law came into effect on January 1.
Enregistré/Unione Domestica Registrata gives
pension, inheritance and tax rights and obligations to same-sex couples who
register their parnerships..
2007 (January). Norway
introduced a law (January 1) that will allow The Norwegian Humanist
Association to perform "marriages" between same-sex couples. The
Humansists have been conducting legal marriages of heterosexuals couples
since December 2004, providing that one of the partners was a Humanist
member (there have been more than 1,000 such ceremonies). The new law
removes the membership requirement - and is expanded to include same-sex
couples whose commitment will be legally recognised as a
(January). Mexico. The northern state of Coahuila introduced “Civil
Solidarity Union” (same sex unions). The law was passed on January 11
and Coahuila was the second area of Mexico to introduce such legislation
(Mexico City was the first - see November 2006). In February, Coahuila
amended its law to allow same-sex couple throughout Mexico to register their
unions in the State.
2007 (February). Italy.
In a special Cabinet meeting on February 8, the Italian government approved
a 'same sex union' measure similar to that in France. The new
legislation, which has to be passed by Parliament, will recognise relations
between gays as well as unmarried heterosexual couples and others who choose
to live together, granting rights in areas like inheritance and health care.
Oregon (USA). Governor
signed House Bill 2007 - Oregon Family Fairness Act on May 9. This
Bill introduces domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and is effective
from January 1, 2008.
Hungary's Parliament approved same-sex partnerships. From January
2009, same-sex couples may
register their civil partnership and have the same rights as married
heterosexual couples in inheritance, taxation and other financial matters.
Constitutional Court overturned the legislation - see 2008 (December)
2007 (December). In
Uruguay, the Senate
legislation to introduce Civil Unions for both same-sex couples and
heterosexuals. Couples will be eligible to form civil unions after
living together for five years. They will have rights similar to those
granted to married couples on such matters as inheritance, pensions and
Tabare Vazquez signed the legislation on December 28. The law is
effective from January 2008.
2008 (April). The first
"gay marriage" in Latin America took place in an Uruguay courthouse when
Adrian Figuera and Juan Carlos Moretti exchanged vows in front of judge
2008 (May). California
looks to becoming the second state in the USA to recognise gay
marriage following a 4-3 decision by the State Supreme Court
ruling on May 15 that it is
unconstitutional to deny same sex couples the right to marry. First
same-sex marriages could take place in mid-June, if there is no further
court challenge. Republican Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he accepted the ruling of the court.
2008 (June). In USA,
the first same-sex civil marriages in California
took place just after 5pm (local time) on Monday June 16 in a handful of
counties. However, most counties started issuing licences on June 17.
Massachusetts already has same-sex marriages, but there are residency
qualifications. In California there are no restrictions.
2008 (June). Legislation was passed in
Norway that gives
same-sex couples the legal right to marry. The upper house of the
Norwegian parliament passed the legislation by a 23-17 majority on June 17. The lower house of the Norwegian
parliament (Odelstinget) passed the law on June 11, 2008 by a vote of 84 -
Since 1993, same-sex couples have been able to enter into Civil Unions (see
above). The new law, which includes adoption and artificial
insemination, will come into effect on January 1, 2009.
2008 (August). In USA,
the The Coquille Nation in Oregon adopted a law that recognising same-sex
marriage, despite an amendment to the state constitution in 2004 that
defined marriage as being a man and a woman. Some say the the US
federal government will have to recognise these marriages as the Coquille
Nation is itself federally recognised as a Native American "tribe".
Others say that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 takes precedence
over any federal native American laws. The lawyers could well be
having a "field day". The first Coquille Nation same-sex marriage is
expected early next year.
2008 (September). The new
constitution approved on September 28 in Ecuador
opens the way to legal recognition of same-sex couples. The new
constitution says that all monogamous same-sex couples living together shall
have the same rights as married heterosexuals. But the constitution
says that marriage itself must remain for heterosexual couples.
2008 (October). In
Connecticut, USA, the state's top
court ruled that civil marriage should be available to same-sex couples.
These civil marriages should become available in November.
2008 (November). The
electorate in California, USA,
voted in favour of 'Proposition 8', which writes into the state's
constitution that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman only.
Same-sex marriages ceased on November 5 throughout the state. Until
the legal tangle is worked out, it is not clear the status of those same-sex
couples who were married between June 16 and November 4.
2008 (November). The
first same-sex civil marriages were registered in
Connecticut on November 12.
Constitutional Court ruled on December 15
that it had annulled the law, passed by Parliament in December 2007, that
would give rights to domestic partners because it would diminish the
importance of marriage. The court says the new legislation was
unconstitutional as it would give unmarried heterosexual couples
practically the same rights as married ones, "downgrading" the institution
of marriage. But the court says, in its decision announced Monday,
that a law allowing domestic partnerships for gay couples would not be
unconstitutional — as long as it applied only to them and not to
Ferenc Gyurcsny immediately instructed the Minister of Justice and Law
Enforcement to prepare a new bill on registered partnership taking into
account the opinion of the Court.
Sweden. A Bill was presented to the Riksdad (Parliament) that will make
marriage available to same-sex couples.
Three of the political parties in the
four-party governing coalition have tabled a motion that is expected to pave
the way for gay marriage in Sweden from May 1 this year. The country has
recognised same-sex couples with
since 1994. Most, but not all, rights enjoyed in civil marriage are
2009 (January). Colombia.
Following a court ruling, civil unions are to be introduced. There are
no details yet as to what rights same-sex couples will have, but it is
expected that the country will have the "strongest" rights for same-sex
couples in South America.
Sweden. On April 1, the Swedish legislature passed its "gender neutral"
marriage bill by a 261 - 22 margin. Marriage will be available to
same-sex couple from May 1, 2009.
2009 (April). USA.
The Supreme Court of the State of Iowa ruled on April 3 that same sex
couples had the right to marry.
“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a
woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the
justices said in a summary of their decision. Same-sex marriages will
begin on April 27.
2009 (April). USA.
The State of Vermont, which was the first to legally recognise any form of
same-sex relationships when it introduced Civil Unions in 2000, became the
first State to legislate to include same-sex couples in their marriage laws.
Following a veto on the Bill by the Governor, both the legislature's House
and Senate voted on April 7 to over-ride the Governor's veto - in the case
of the House the vote was 100-49, just enough to reach the required
two-thirds majority. The new legislation will become law on September
1, 2009, when no more Civil Unions will be registered. Those who have
registered a Civil Union will continue to to have them recognised, but may
"convert" them to marriage.
2009 (April). USA.
The State of Washington Legislature voted 62-35 on April 15 to introduce
an "everything but marriage" bill that grants
same-sex couples all the rights and benefits the state offers married
couples. The bill now goes to Governor Chris Gregoire, who is expected
to sign it into law.
2009 (April). Hungary.
The Hungarian Parliament passed the
same-sex partnership bill on April 20 by a
199-159 (with eight abstentions) margin. The bill, which does not give
same-sex couple the right to adopt children, is expected to come into force
2009 (May) USA. The Governor of Maine signed the
Act to End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom
on May 6. The law will become effective 90 days after the
adjournment of the legislative session which is expected around the end
However, plans are on hold as a petition to hold a
referendum on the matter got the required number of signatories and it
goes to public vote in November.
2009 (June). USA. New
Hampshire became the sixth state to legalise gay marriage after
the Senate and House passed key language on religious rights and Gov.
John Lynch — who personally opposes gay marriage — signed the
legislation on June 3. The new law will come into force on January
1, 2010, the second anniversary of the introduction in New Hampshire of
2009 (June). The French overseas territory of New
Caledonia in the Pacific finally approved the PaCS (Pacte Civil
de Solidarité) law, ten years after it was first introduced in France.
Same sex couples were able to register their 'pacte' from the first
week of the month.
2009 (November). USA. Voters in
Maine overturned the decision of the State Senate, House and
Governor to introduce gay marriage.
2009 (November). Australia's first legal
civil partnership was registered in Canberra (Australian Capital
Territory) on November 25. Warren McGaw and Chris Rumble, who
have been together for almost 20 years were the first couple to
register. ACT is the only place in Australia to have any form of
legal partnership recognition for same-sex couples.
2009 (December). The Austrian
Parliament passed, by a 110-64 margin, legislation on December
10 allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.
It is expected to become law on January 1, 2010. While
civil unions will give many rights enjoyed by married couples,
the legislation does not give the right to adoption or
2009 (December). In the USA,
the Washington DC City Council approved 11-2 the introduction of
gay marriage, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the Bill on
December 18. By law, the US Congress has to review the
Bill within "30 legislative days".
2009 (December). Mexico. A
measure to legalise same-sex marriage was passed 39-20 by the
Mexico City Assembly. The change, Associated Press reported,
would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank
loans together, inherit wealth and be included in the insurance
policies of their spouse, rights they were denied under civil
unions allowed in the city. The Mayor is likely to sign
the measure, applicable only in Mexico City. into law.
2009 (Decenber). In Argentina, the
constitution is silent on whether marriage must be between a man
and a woman, effectively leaving the matter to state and city
officials, the Associated Press Reported when Jose Maria Di
Bello and Alex Freyre were married in front of state and federal
officials in Ushauaia, the state capital ofTierra del
Fuego on December 28.
Same sex partnerships have been legal since 2002 in
2010 (January). USA. In New
Hampshire, same-sex civil marriage became law on January 1
when couples who had already registered civil unions could
exchange vows for the second time.
2010 (February). Portugal.
Parliament approved the final wording of a gay civil marriage
Bill on February 24. The Bill now goes to the President Silva, a
Catholic who has said he opposes the legislation. He has
eight days to approve the Bill and pass it on to the
Constitutional Court, or 20 days to veto it. The Government has
vowed to over-ride any Presidential veto.
2010 (March). USA.
Same-sex marriage in the
District of Columbia (Washington) become legal
on March 3, the first date that a same-sex couple can
apply for a marriage license. With the three clear
business days "waiting period", the first ceremonies are
due to be held on March 9.
2010 (March). In Mexico,
same sex marriage became legal on March 4 in Mexico City only.
The legislation also includes provision for married same-sex
couples to adopt.
2010 (May). President
Silva of Portugal signed the same-sex marriage Bill on
May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia). The Act was
published in the Diário da Republica on May 31, with the first
ceremony taking place on June 7 when Teresa Pires and Helena
Paixão became the first same-sex couple to marry in the country.
2010 (June). The
Althingi (Parliament) in
unanimously (49-0) to amend the wording of the civil marriage law so that marriage is
the legal union of two individuals and not only of a man and a
woman and at the same time struck down the registered
partnership law. The Bill now goes to the President
Olafur Grimsson to sign into law. This is seen as a formality
as the Icelandic President has only twice sent a bill to public
referendum in the 56-year history of the Republic of Iceland.
The Bill has to be sent to the President within two weeks of
being passed by the
Althingi. The legislation specifically
states that ministers of religion will
"be free to perform [same-sex] marriage ceremonies, but never
2010 (June). In Iceland, the
new 'gay marriage law' came into effect on June 27. Among
the first to take advantage was Icelandic Prime Minister
Johanna Sigurdardottir and her partner writer
Jonina Leosdottir. In 2002 the couple had registered a
civil union, which have now been 'struck down' under the new
civil marriage law.
2010 (July). In Ireland, the Civil
Partnership Bill passed all stages in the
Dáil without a formal vote on July 1, easily
clearing its first hurdle.
It is expected to be law by autumn.
2010 (July). Following a marathon debate, the Senate
passed a Bill legalising same-sex marriage in Argentina.
President Cristina Fernandez signed the Bill into law on July 21
making Argentina the first country in Latin America to recognise
same-sex marriage throughout the country.
2010 (December). Both houses of the legislature in
Illinois approved legislation allowing civil unions in the
State - the House approved the measure on November 30, with the
Senate approving December 1. Governor Pat Quinn has said
he will sign the bill early in 2011, with the first civil
unions, also available to heterosexual couples, on June 1, 2011.
Application for Civil Partnerships in Ireland will be able to be made from January
Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD,
announced on December 23. Couples must give three
months notice to the Civil Registrar before having a
civil partnership ceremony. So the first ceremonies will
be in April (as in the case for civil marriage, at least
three months notice is required by law). However, couples who have a wide
range of foreign same-sex civil marriages and same-sex
civil partnerships will automatically have their legal
marriage/partnership recognised in Ireland from January
3. On April 5 in Dublin, Barry Dignam and Hugh Walsh
became the first same-sex couple to have a civil partnership.
2011 (March). In the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein (population 35,000), the Landag (parliament) finally approved
legislation for the introduction of Registered Partnerships,
similar to the arrangements in Switzerland. The process
started in 2007. Registered Partnerships should come into
effect from September 1, 2011. But a group is petitioning
to have a referendum, and have until mid-April to collect the
1,000 signatures required under the constitution. The required number of
petitioners was reached and the referendum is to be held, probably in June.
2011 (April). In the USA, the
Delaware legislature approved Civil Unions for same sex
couples who would enjoy
all of the rights and benefits
of marriage under state law.
2011 (May). On May 5, the Supreme Court in Brazil
ruled 10-0 that same-sex partnerships must be legally
The decision grants gay couples most of
the rights enjoyed by heterosexual partners, including pension
benefits, inheritance and, some lawyers say, possibly the right
to adopt children.
2011 (June). In Illinois (USA),
Civil Unions became legal on June 1 when licences were
issued. Civil Unions
are available to both same-sex and 'straight' couples.
The first ceremonies were on June 2.
2011 (June). In the Principality of
68.8 percent of voters approved the law for in introduction of
Registered Partnerships in a binding referendum In March,
(parliament) approved the measure.
2011 (June). On June 24 in the United States,
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Marriage Equality Act which legalises gay
marriage minutes after the Senate voted 33-29 to pass the legislation. The Bill comes into effect on July 24, 2011.
2011 (July). Civil Unions for same-sex
couples in Rhode Island (USA) was signed into
law by Governor Lincoln Chaffe on July 2 after being passed
21-16 by the State Senate earlier in the week.
2011 (August): In Scotland,
the SNP, which has an overall majority in Parliament, said it
would be seeking to introduce same-sex marriage. There
would be public consultation in the coming months, the SNP said.
Marriage laws are one of the many aspects that have been
'devolved' by the British Parliament to Scotland.
2011 (September). Full 'marriage equality' in England and
Wales came a stage closer when the British Government
announced that early next year they would be undertaking
"consultation" prior to introducing legislation. Prime
Minister David Cameron was reported to want same-sex civil
marriage in place by the end of the current Parliament in 2015.
2011 (September). In Australia, the Tasmanian
State Parliament voted on September 26 in favour of same-sex
marriage, the first in the country to do so. State parliaments,
however, have no control over marriage laws which are a federal
matter, but it sends a message to Canberra.
Brazil. It is difficult to fit
this country into a "timeline" as there is no specific national legislation
for same-sex unions. However same-sex couples do have many rights that
come as a result of anti-discrimination laws, and via the courts.
Brazilian law gives same-sex couples the right
to inherit their partner's pension and social security benefits.
Providing they can establish with the National
Social Security Institute they are in a "stable union", they will be treated
no differently from a married couple on retirement or death. The
policy also allows people in same-sex relationships to declare their
partners as dependents on income tax returns. All this is as a result
of a court ruling and is not enshrined in specific law.
The state of Rio Grande do Sul has a "civil union
registry" as a result of a court decision in March 2004. Same-sex couples in committed relationships are able to
register at any notary public office. Although it does not affect federal
rights, it gives same-sex couples more equality in many areas. Same-sex
couples who register have the right to jointly own property, establish
custody of children, and claim the right to pensions and property when one
complex country, in this case as a result of having 50 states, all with
differing laws. Many states have implemented some degree of equality,
especially in the workplace/pensions/health fields with domestic partner
benefits. The majority of states have implemented constitutional
amendments or laws defining "marriage" as being between a man and a woman,
thus preventing in introduction of "same-sex marriage". As noted
above, Connecticut has this definition, but this year introduced a form of
civil partnership for same sex couples. Massachusetts introduced
same-sex marriage on the order of the state's Supreme Judicial Court in
2004. There are moves to bring into effect either a redefinition to a
"partnership" or bring in a law/amendment that would in effect reverse the court
decision. Vermont was the first state to introduce same-sex
partnerships/unions (2000). On October 25, 2006, the Supreme Court in New
Jersey ruled that politicians must either amend the State's existing
marriage laws to include same-sex couples or to introduce 'Civil Unions' -
within 180 days. On December 14, the Civil Union measure passed the State
Assembly and Senate
with substantial majorities. Gov. Jon Corzine signed the legislation
on December 21, 2006 and the law will be effective from February 19.
In Oregon, Governor
signed the State's "Domestic Partnership" legislation (House Bill 2007 -
Oregon Family Fairness Act) on May 9, 2007. It become effective on
January 1, 2008. The New Hampshire legislature has approved
Civil Unions, and the measure is awaiting the signature of Gov.
John Lynch - he has said he
will sign it. Two years later, the legislature approved 'marriage
equality' and same-sex couples were able to have a civil marriage from
January 1, 2010 - the first State to introduce same-sex marriage via
legislation. California introduced same-sex civil marriage on June
16, 2008, following a ruling from the state's supreme court. But it
was short-lived as less than five months later, on November 4, Californians
narrowly approved 'Proposition 8' which would later the constitution of the
state to define marriage (including civil marriage) as between a man and a
woman only. Although not a state, but rather a 'district' that comes under
the 'eye' of the US Congress, the District of Columbia introduced same-sex
marriage on March 3, 2010. In Delaware, both the state Senate
and the House of Representatives approved the introduction of Civil Unions
in April 2011. Civil Unions will provide same-sex couples with all of
the rights and benefits of marriage under state law. June 1, 2011, saw Civil
Unions, available to both same-sex and 'straight' couples became legal.
States and Districts that offer same-sex marriage: Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of
States that have other names ("unions" etc) for their legal recognition
of committed same-sex couples: New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada,
States offering same-sex couples legal recognition, but with limited
rights: Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task force has
"Anti Gay-Marriage Measures in the USA" map
which shows states that is correct to November 15, 2005.
See also the
Freedom to Marry website for information on
Thanks especially to ILGA-Europe
for their assistance in compiling this listing. This listing will be
kept up to date as other countries bring in legislation. Please let us
know of any developments - as well as any errors or omissions above.
Also thanks to Geoffrey
Williams of Australia's
The Pink Broad for input on the situation "Down Under"
- and in Brazil.
From Toronto, Douglas and
Jim have spotted errors in our Canadian entries and provided additional
information - corrections and additions have been made and Argentina was
added thanks to "Yvon".
Kurt of the
Initiative (HOSI) in Wien (Vienna) provided invaluable information and
clarification on Europe.
This list can be freely used, either with or
Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) website -
in German. The site contains an
overview of Europe
Equal: New Defence Policy.
The Pink Broad on the
Australian Defence Force regulations that came
into effect on December 1 and gives military personnel in a same-sex
relationship some of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual serving members.
Gay Veterans: The Fight for Equality looks
at the continuing inequality for ADF retired personnel.
Battle' for Gay and Lesbian Rights,
by Marcela Valente (IPS News Service, Italy)